Ring changes

Smartphones have become the hub of our daily lives and are now in the pockets of two thirds of UK adults.

Half of 55- to 64-year-olds now own a smartphone.

The Ofcom 2015 Communications Market Report highlights the urgent need for radical changes to be made to the 999 emergency service so that those in need can text as well as call.

Much of the technology we need to update our emergency service is available.

But we urgently need to make progress now.

A data-based emergency service would allow people to text alerts via any appropriate app on a chosen easy-to-remember special number.

These alerts would then be passed to the human emergency operator.

The main engineering challenge would be to set up priority routing of alerts to this special number.

Professor Will Stewart,

Institution of Engineering and Technology.